Information and news about nigeria

Vaccinating Rural Communities
There are logistical differences between distributing vaccines to heavily populated urban centers and poorer outlying areas. These differences require attention to ensure equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccinating rural communities, which are the most vulnerable to COVID-19, requires special attention. 

The Geographic Information System (GIS) is a tool for vaccinating rural communities to ensure equitable distribution. This system of maps allows civic authorities to access a comprehensive source of data and translate it into actionable information on the optimal places for setting up relief operations of any kind.

Information on socioeconomic conditions combined with an overlay of physical terrain provides the tools for determining who is most in need of immunization. This ensures that vaccine site planners make the most of a decentralized distribution plan when deciding how to provide for rural areas efficiently.

What Is It?

It is best to view GIS as a method of overlapping different types of data on a given location so that an interested party can view it in light of whatever context they might need. GIS users can filter out whatever data they do not find relevant to their task.

National Geographic adds that the system operates through entering relevant information such as topography and housing distribution in a process called “data capture.” This stores information in snapshots that can inform viewers of how recent their data is and illustrate changes through certain date ranges.

These data stem from multiple sources, involving images from an aerial scan and/or records of human activity. So, the value of GIS in vaccinating rural communities stems from the clear picture it offers distributors on where they can have the most impact. Pandemic frontline workers can make informed decisions wherever they are by pulling up relevant data from their maps on areas of interest.

Who Does It Help?

GIS, with its ability to keep people up-to-date on the condition of areas in need, provides the means to supplement efforts with additional pre-planning. Aside from working around the capacity of available healthcare centers by choosing areas with sufficient personnel and space for vaccinating rural communities, there are more benefits of GIS. These include:

  1. Once GIS creates fairness in planning for nationwide immunity, its information on demographics helps at managing vaccine distribution by relative need based on their vulnerability to COVID-19. On a broad scale, this can mean selecting a cluster of people based on relatively low access to healthcare or a high concentration of infirmities. On a smaller scale, this might involve isolating demographic groups such as the homeless or discriminated minorities.
  2. Keeping track of vaccine stockpiles becomes more important when a larger distribution range requires storing vaccines closer to rural areas. In cases where a country is using vaccines that require two doses, timely delivery is crucial. By storing vaccines in the countryside, distributors find a median between shortening the logistical tail and allowing for the distance necessary for reaching impoverished areas without such hospitals.

Who Is Using GIS?

South Africa quickly adopted GIS as a means of vaccinating rural communities in situations where income gaps between different municipalities impacted travel times to the nearest hospital.

“Reaching South Africans in remote places has begun using mobile teams and mobile pharmacies to ensure that the vaccination program covers ‘the last mile,’” writes Luis Monzon on work the South African government did with volunteers from health NGO Right to Care. Right To Care’s mobile pharmacies regularly use their access to digital maps for tasks as routine as locating the optimal route to their destinations.

An earlier success story is that of Nigeria’s experience using GIS in its efforts to eradicate polio when it was discovered that hand-drawn maps did not accurately reflect resources on the ground. This realization and the use of geospatial data served as the basis for fine-tuning the Nigerian government’s strategy. In having the foundation for a distribution strategy before receiving 16 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine, government projections indicate a 40% immunization rate by the end of 2021.

Equal Opportunity Efficiency

Widespread adoption of GIS ensures that a country’s disaster response strategy can protect even the most remote areas from the destabilizing influence of a national crisis. Future applications of this technology likewise stand to benefit as its pool of experienced users broadens.

Whether the responsibility of vaccinating rural communities is in response to a national health crisis or other disruption to normalcy, GIS ensures the fastest possible response in mitigating the impact of a disaster. Expanding access to such comprehensive data serves as a further step in building a self-sufficient network for disaster-preparedness beyond the scope of a pandemic.

– Samuel Katz
Photo: Flickr

mint countries Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey, also known as the “MINT” countries, are the fastest-growing emerging economies in the world. While COVID-19 has socially, physically and economically impacted the MINT countries, the nations are still playing a tremendous role in helping alleviate poverty for millions of people.

Mexico

Mexico is the perfect example of an emerging economy. Due to its strong trade relationship with the United States, its GDP is higher than almost all developing countries. However, Mexico’s overall GDP is not yet enough to meet the standards for a developed country. Similarly, while the poverty rate remains high in Mexico, the percent of people living on less than $3.20 has dropped from 12.8% in 2010 to 6.6% in 2018.

However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mexico’s economy has declined sharply. In fact, the Mexican GDP decreased by 8.3% during 2020, its largest drop since the Great Depression. While the country has partially recovered from its economic downturn due to increased trade, it still has a long way to make up for its GDP drop from 2020.

Indonesia

Indonesia is the fourth-most populous nation in the entire world and ranks 56th in economic freedom. This statistic is a result of low tax burdens and increasing political participation. Similarly, the country is one of the top-ranked Asia-Pacific countries in terms of its economy and the country has seen steady financial improvements since 2017. In fact, Indonesia cut its poverty rate by more than 50% from 1999 to 2020.

While COVID-19 had major effects on the country, economic activity has rebounded significantly. For example, in July 2020, the government eased lockdown restrictions, which allowed for increased exports and stronger government support. Without the burdens of the COVID-19 recession, Indonesia can continue to develop its economy and reduce poverty.

Nigeria

Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa. However, the country saw relatively minimal growth during the last few years because of high oil prices. The drops in oil prices are significant because Nigeria is Africa’s biggest exporter and contains Africa’s largest natural gas reserves. Similarly, the COVID-19 pandemic has had disastrous effects on the country. The economy contracted by 6.1% in the second quarter of 2020 with 27% of Nigerians unemployed.

However, the country has made recent strides to tackle poverty and improve its economy. Due to eased lockdowns in the country, Nigeria’s oil prices have improved. Furthermore, its economy has grown by 0.5% in the first quarter of 2021, helping the country exit its COVID-19 related recession. In fact, the president of Nigeria inaugurated the National Steering Committee of the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS) in June 2021. The inauguration marks Nigeria’s commitment to raising 100 million people out of poverty within 10 years, fueling optimism about the country’s future.

Turkey

Turkey, one of the wealthiest MINT countries, has had an impressive economic run since the 2000s due to open trade with other countries and cooperation with the EU. Similarly, the Turkish government has implemented government reforms in most impoverished regions of the country. These reforms successfully cut poverty rates in half.

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, Turkey has been able to recover, and its economy remains strong. While the leaders of Turkey have been accused of political corruption and Turkey saw a COVID-19 spike in April 2021, the number of infections has dropped by 72% since then because of a total lockdown measure. Similarly, Turkey’s recovery from COVID-19 is expected to boost the country’s GDP by 5% by the end of 2021.

Even with the factors of COVID-19, political instability, corruption and more, the MINT countries have shown resilience and progress. By decreasing poverty, implementing reforms and recovering from the pandemic, the MINT countries move toward a bright future.

– Calvin Franke
Photo: Flickr

Climate change in NigeriaAlthough most greenhouse gas emissions come from the global north, Africa will soon face some of the most severe impacts of the climate crisis. The country of Nigeria is in a uniquely vulnerable position. Home to around 200 million people, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, and 40% of Nigerians live below the national poverty line. Climate change and poverty can act in a vicious cycle. Impoverished people are often unable to adapt to increased temperatures or rising sea levels due to a lack of resources and mobility. When people lose their homes and livelihoods to climate change, they can face even greater poverty, especially when children lose access to education. This is also true for poverty and climate change in Nigeria.

Nigeria is located on the Gulf of Guinea, just north of the equator. Due to its size and geographical location, Nigeria is at risk for a great variety of climate-related challenges. Its northern regions, which border the Sahara, are experiencing increasing rates of desertification. Its low-lying coastal areas, meanwhile, are facing rising sea levels and flooding. Despite these challenges, the Nigerian government has set admirable sustainability goals. Furthermore, local farmers are using innovative techniques to adapt to climate change.

Urban Areas

Nigeria’s capital city, Lagos, is a rapidly growing economic center. It is home to between 15 and 26 million people and one-third of Nigeria’s GDP. Lagos is surrounded by massive slums which house half of the urban population. These slums, some of which are entirely composed of floating shacks and canoes, are at high risk of flooding as sea levels rise. Rising sea levels, another result of climate change in Nigeria, can cause erosion and contaminate freshwater. This damages Nigeria’s fishing industry, which feeds and employs many impoverished people. Inland areas of Lagos are also being inundated with refugees from coastal areas which have already been destroyed by flooding. As slum populations increase, living conditions become even more unhealthy and dangerous.

Agriculture

Many climate refugees in urban Nigeria come from inland, where conditions have made farming impossible for many poor families. Approximately 70% of Nigerians, many of whom live below the poverty line, rely on agriculture as their primary source of income. In 2018, thousands of people left the agricultural regions of northern Nigeria. They were displaced by droughts, food insecurity and “climate-related conflict.” According to a report from World Bank, the results of climate change in Nigeria such as rising temperatures and “erratic rainfall” could lead to a “20 to 30% reduction in crop yields.” Dust storms are also becoming more common and can significantly deplete topsoil layers. This can be crushing as these topsoil layers are crucial for successful farming. In addition to direct loss of income, poor agricultural yields will lead to food shortages. This harms Nigeria’s most vulnerable populations in both urban and rural areas.

What People Can Do

Although the climate crisis is already significantly impacting impoverished Nigerians, there are still possibilities for climate change mitigation and adaptation. A World Bank report called “Toward Climate-Resilient Development in Nigeria” outlines cost-effective strategies focused on increasing renewable energy generation and reducing agricultural and industrial pollution. One possible adaptation to climate change in Nigeria is a practice called “agroforestry.” This is where farmers plant trees around their crops and animal pastures, protecting them from increased temperatures and reducing topsoil depletion. This farm layout mimics a more natural landscape and can provide farmers with additional resources such as firewood. Additionally, it helps sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Agroforestry is gaining traction as an adaptation to climate change in Nigeria, and it could prove very useful in the future.

– Anneke Taylor
Photo: Wikimedia

educational and cultural development
Africa is a continent rich in natural resources, accompanied by a vibrant culture that educates the youth in many ways. The oral storytelling, artwork and scientific advancements within Africa are why a new crop of rising African scholars see a brighter Africa for the educational and cultural development of the African future. Yet the previous generations of Africans, especially from the sub-Saharan countries, have faced a tough battle in attaining educational progress. Only two-thirds of children in sub-Saharan countries complete primary education, according to the Global Partnership for Education.

Studies from the World Bank showcased the correlation between educational attainment and overall lower unemployment and social outreach: a child who finishes primary school is more likely to finish secondary school and pursue university. Community centers and resources aimed at increasing education create a better array of job-ready individuals who will be able to create a new economy for countries in dire need of infrastructural change.

Giants of Africa

Giants of Africa is a nonprofit, pro-sport and pro-educational program that focuses on helping children around Africa with the opportunity of achieving high educational and athletic development. With annual inclusive camps, the founder and president of basketball operations for the Toronto Raptors, Masai Ujiri, has been working since 2003 to educate and cultivate physical, psychological and emotional development for underdeveloped communities. These camps have helped many exceptional African youth players find a pathway way into the NBA and the African National Leagues around the continent. However, more importantly, they have uplifted the educational and cultural development in Africa.

Ujiri has worked vigorously to do two things. First, he wants to find a new crop of African talent, both female and male, to a direct pipeline into the NBA and WNBA, or even collegiate programs. The basketball camps have been a safe place for many African youths to take shelter in. Second, he wants to establish a network of camps that help in the educational and cultural development of the youth in Africa. Ujiri’s specialization in sub-Saharan countries coincides with their growing population.

There has been an establishment of different basketball camps across Africa, mainly those around the most impoverished communities. One of the largest camps is in Somalia, where Giants of Africa works with girls who are in danger of sex trafficking. Partnering with the Elman Peace Centre, Giants of Africa created camps that invited more than 50 girls in 2019 to participate. Here are the areas where Giants of Africa created the camps.

Giants of Africa’s Camps

  1. South Sudan: The establishment of a community center in South Sudan’s capital has been instrumental in giving more than 53 young children rigorous educational lessons. This occurred through a partnership between Giants of Africa and the Luol Deng Foundation.
  2. Kenya: In Kenya, Giants of Africa have teamed up with The Mully’s Children Family organization that focuses on helping displaced women and children who have HIV/AIDS, children stuck in child labor and victims of sex trafficking. Giants of Africa has been instrumental in funding food, education, shelter, educational training, healthcare and counseling resources.
  3. Nigeria: In Nigeria, which is also where Ujiri is originally from, funds went toward making a permanent community center after the annual camps took place. There, Giants of Africa partnered with Little Saints Orphanage in Lagos to establish a community system for the orphaned youth. Ujiri has used Giants of Africa’s sponsorship with Nike to donate Nike apparel and equipment as well as organized funding for the orphanage.

The combined average unemployment rate of South Sudan, Kenya and Nigeria is more than 25% and faces an unprecedented future without the investment of the rest of the world. Africa is an entirely different world with so much potential to blossom.

Educational Performance with the Necessary Tools

Research from a recent World Bank study demonstrates just how important youth development can be towards educational performance, cultural development and social mobility. These camps helped more than thousands of susceptible young children who are the future of Africa.

These results are more relevant now than ever with Africa housing a population in which more than 63% are under the age of 25. Inhabitants within sub-Saharan Africa make up the largest growing youth in the world. The attainment of formal education along with formal events of communal work services could impact the world on a global scale. A recent study that Richard Reeves, a British economist from the Brookings Institution, conducted, found that sub-Saharan countries do revere educational attainment and the social mobility that goes along with it. This goes hand in hand with the results of community outreach and higher-income status.

The lack of research on how community centers and funding have helped Africa grow economically and educationally is a testament to the lack of resources available to them. With the largest growing population in the world, the key to global porosity lies in sub-Saharan Africa.

Conclusion

The continent of Africa is now facing a period of educational advancement for the youth. This has occurred not only through the extravagant work of Masai Ujiri but also through the action of many grassroots organizations that see the potential in Africa. Countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Somalia are at a crossroads with the future of global society. Not only has Giants for Africa established a pipeline for extraordinary young basketball players to forge their journey into a better professional and educational future, but it is also helping the children who are also at a higher risk of not continuing their education.

– Mario Perales
Photo: Unsplash

Youth Apprenticeships in Nigeria The African nation of Nigeria is prioritizing its growth and development. In a tough economic climate of high unemployment and poverty, the youth of Nigeria are motivated to prepare for the future. While classroom learning is undoubtedly important, students are also pursuing a different type of education, oftentimes on top of their schoolwork. Informal Nigerian apprenticeships provide children with personalized vocational training from the master craftsmen of their communities. The benefits of youth apprenticeships in Nigeria are particularly advantageous for children who face a lack of education and extreme poverty. Youth apprenticeships in Nigeria provide useful skills that increase children’s future employability and help them get a head start on their careers. Up to 49% of children are involved in apprenticeships in some areas of Nigeria.

History of Apprenticeships

The master-apprentice relationship has been around for hundreds of years and its implementation can be seen all over the globe. The Igbo apprenticeship system became the prominent model for the Igbo ethnic group, who reside in Southeastern Nigeria. Once young learners prove their knowledge and ability, learners receive more responsibility in their given occupation until they eventually take over the enterprise from their mentor. Now, this same model has spread to different parts of the country and is an ingrained part of the culture. The modern version of this system is different from before because it is not a strictly patrilineal arrangement. Today, apprentices do not have to be male or of relation to the master craftsman as in earlier times.

Benefits of Youth Apprenticeships in Nigeria

Nigerian apprenticeships are mindful of students’ school commitments. The apprenticeship system does not discourage academics but rather works in harmony with it. Hours are flexible and tend to be after school and on the weekends. In addition, many young people find that having a commitment apart from school keeps them busy and out of trouble. A typical age range for these child apprentices is between 10 and 15. In order to avoid malpractice or exploitation, the Nigerian Child Rights Act serves as protection, “but does not rule out children working altogether.” This specification is in place because working can be very advantageous to Nigerian children and restricting work could actually add to their economic difficulties and prevent their career development and economic progression.

Specialty trades for apprenticeships include farming, weaving, pottery, carving, bricklaying, mechanics, hairdressing and operating market stands. For children who are unable to complete their formal school education, being a skilled tradesman or artisan provides a steady alternative career track. Apprenticeships are generally unpaid, but some do provide small cash payments for children to afford basic necessities such as food and clothing. Even little contributions are extremely beneficial for the well-being of Nigerian families in poverty.

Reducing Rates of Poverty

Nigerian apprenticeships can help to ease pre-existing pressures that stem from high unemployment rates and increasing rates of poverty. On top of the potential money generated from apprenticing, the pupil may have the opportunity to take over the mentor’s position in the future with the knowledge of the inner workings of the operation.

Apprenticeships allow more people to have access to financial freedom and present an antidote to global poverty. Overall, Nigerian youth apprenticeships are bringing positive benefits to the country. The likelihood of youth falling further into poverty sees a drastic reduction and personal development becomes a reality.

– Lucy Gentry
Photo: Flickr

LifeBankFounded in 2016, LifeBank is a Nigerian health technology startup created to address the issue of blood shortages in Nigeria. The startup recently expanded to Kenya and aims to save lives across all of Africa. LifeBank has succeeded in saving more than 10,000 lives in critical emergencies and plans to save 990,000 more lives as it extends its reach to Kenya. The startup works to find technological solutions to improve healthcare in Africa.

LifeBank’s Mission

LifeBank has dedicated itself to solving the problems of healthcare in Africa. Founder Temie Giwa-Tubosun was initially inspired by her own child’s birth, which took place in the United States. The baby was born prematurely and Giwa-Tubosun could have died of postpartum hemorrhage had she given birth in Nigeria. Giwa-Tubosun told Africa Renewal that “Eight out of 10 women who bleed to death while giving birth can be saved if blood is readily available.” Blood shortages are common in Nigeria and other African countries. Giwa-Tubosun created LifeBank to address this issue.

LifeBank has had a profound impact on healthcare in Africa. The innovative company “uses data, technology and smart logistics to improve the discoverability, delivery, affordability and safety of essential medical products like blood and oxygen for health systems” in Nigeria and Kenya. Since its creation, LifeBank has saved thousands of lives by delivering more than 25,000 essential medical products to roughly 550 hospitals in need.

How LifeBank Works

A strong health supply chain engine in Africa is characterized by a 24-hour delivery service from ports to medical centers. LifeBank works to make this process affordable, adaptable and accessible to everyone. LifeBank uses every type of delivery service, including “bikes, boats, trucks, tricycles and drones.” The company utilizes Google Maps to calculate and monitor the routes involved in blood transportation.

LifeBank uses AI and Blockchain in its distribution system. Its deployment services utilize USSD or SMS to ensure universal access. Patients or doctors place a phone call to LifeBank or make an order through the company’s app. Then, LifeBank contacts the blood bank closest to the patient and the delivery service begins. LifeBank’s service is on-demand. It works across eight states in Nigeria and will now expand to Kenya. The company is able to deliver supplies in less than 50 minutes. LifeBank has made a visible impact on healthcare in Africa and intends to continue doing so.

Improving Healthcare in Africa

According to the World Health Organization, “nearly 20% of all global maternal deaths” occur in Nigeria. Access to blood could significantly reduce cases of maternal deaths involving blood loss. The Nigerian National Blood Transfusion Service often raises concerns about the lack of blood donors in the country, which significantly impacts the blood shortage in Nigeria.

LifeBank aims to solve two major problem areas in the health sector of Africa: accessibility and infrastructure. People in need of blood or hospitals, especially those located in rural areas, have no access to essential medical supplies. Further, blood banks are searching for patients and hospitals to provide for. LifeBank helps connect the two, providing quality information and ensuring fast deliveries.

LifeBank hopes to create a more robust healthcare system by strengthening the supply chain engine across Africa. With its expansion to Kenya, it will continue to save more lives by delivering medical supplies to reduce preventable deaths.

Addison Franklin
Photo: Flickr

The Smart City ProjectThrough a combination of STEM education, infrastructure and trade with industrialized countries, many formerly underdeveloped nations have seen significant growth in economic output and improved quality of life, especially Asian countries such as China, Singapore and South Korea. Halfway across the world from those countries, a massive well of largely untapped potential lies in Lagos, Nigeria. Lagos houses nearly 15 million people, making it the most populated city in Africa. A combined effort from the Nigerian government and various private enterprises aims to revolutionize tech infrastructure in Lagos and spur economic growth through the Smart City project.

Making the Change

The Smart City project is led by Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, assisted by several individuals and organizations in both the public and private sectors. The government has assigned a budget of 250 million nairas (around $640,000) toward research on tech infrastructure in Lagos under the management of the Lagos State Science, Research and Innovation Council, which will invest in fields such as AI, robotics, biomedical informatics and sustainable energy. The Smart City project aims for multi-level integration, with the government providing funds and direction for the private sector. This strategy aims to improve tech infrastructure in Lagos and increase the city’s productivity.

The Plans

Lagos is a city with a very large population. Nonetheless, the people of Lagos are limited to a space of less than 4,000 square miles, resulting in immense pressure on existing infrastructure and transportation systems. According to Sanwo-Olu, one of the premier goals of the Smart City project is to construct an intricate rail network that would allow for much more efficient transportation of people and goods, along with remodeled roads, airports and seaports.

Tech infrastructure in Lagos will also be improved through the installation of “3,000 kilometers of fiber metro network cables and broadband infrastructure.” This will provide high-speed internet access to offices, homes, healthcare buildings and schools. High-speed internet would increase productivity and allow for increased connectivity between organizations and the possibility of learning or working remotely, if necessary.

To help sustain technological progress for the future, the government has also sponsored student participation in a new program, the 774 Young Nigerian Scientist Presidential Award. This program aims to promote interest in STEM subjects among young Nigerians and encourage youth participation to innovatively solve the challenges within Nigeria. The fact that more than 66% of the population of Lagos are younger than 30 makes it certain that the future of Nigeria lies in the hands of the youth. As such, Nigeria aims to prioritize and empower young Nigerians.

The Progress

The installation of network cables is well underway with 3,000 kilometers of fiber cables laid in the ongoing first phase of plans. According to Sanwo-Olu, the Nigerian government has funded more than 20 innovative startups “in areas such as agriculture-tech, environmental tech, educational technology and small-scale manufacturing.” The government has also financially supported more than 70 research programs in four educational institutions.

Sanwo-Olu’s administration has also secured funding for the Fourth Mainland Bridge, which is slated for construction in December 2021 and will be the longest bridge in Africa upon completion. Another project slated for completion in 2021 is the Imota Rice Mill. The mill will be the largest in sub-Saharan Africa and will create more than 250,000 jobs for Nigerians.

The government and people of Lagos have made great strides to modernize tech infrastructure in Lagos. The Smart City project has the potential to transform Lagos into a tech powerhouse. Such a development has the potential to reduce poverty throughout Nigeria.

Sawyer Lachance
Photo: Flickr

Cryptocurrency in NigeriaNigeria has the highest GDP out of all the African countries, but 40% of its population lives in poverty. The country’s struggling economy primarily relies upon oil exports, accounting for more than half of government revenue. Lacking transport and energy infrastructure as well as neglecting to diversify the economy results in a disadvantaged population of impoverished people. The use of cryptocurrency in Nigeria is proving to be a beneficial solution to help lift people out of poverty.

Boosting Supplemental Income

The 2016 recession caused a significant strain on Nigeria’s economy and the country is still struggling to recover. In the second quarter of 2020, the country reported a 27.1% growth in unemployment. Average incomes have been declining for six years straight and experts predict there will be less than a 2% rise in income during 2021. The value of the country’s national currency, the naira, fell by 24% in 2020. This economic downturn caused some Nigerians to seek supplemental income.

A 2020 survey indicates that 32% of Nigerians participate in buying and trading cryptocurrency. In 2020, Nigeria accounted for $400 million worth of cryptocurrency transactions, ranking it third globally in trading volume. Cryptocurrency in Nigeria has so far positively enriched the lives of impoverished citizens. For example, a Nigerian cryptocurrency investor, Tola Fadugbagbe, credits cryptocurrency for lifting him out of poverty. Initially struggling to survive on minimum wage odd jobs, Fadugbagbe now earns enough money from cryptocurrency trading to build his own house and purchase a farm.

Ease of Banking

Approximately 60 million Nigerians do not possess a bank account. People who do have bank accounts can only withdraw less than the equivalent of $100 due to local bank restrictions. The hurdles have led to a shift toward mobile banking and cryptocurrency investments. In 2017, reports showed that 71% of Nigerians use mobile phones for communication and internet access. Mobile platforms, including Xend Finance, allow Nigerians to transform their funds into cryptocurrencies. One cryptocurrency that has become popular is stablecoin, which has minimal transaction fees. Stablecoins provide the added benefit of protecting funds from devaluation.

Providing Educational Opportunities

Cryptocurrency in Nigeria is also bringing about educational opportunities. In September 2020, the #BuiltWithBitcoin campaign, led by the bitcoin marketplace Paxful, began construction of a new school in the Nigerian area of Sanga. Paxful is a cryptocurrency exchange platform that operates on a peer-to-peer basis. Nigerians use the platform to make nearly 1.1 million monthly blockchain transactions.

The new school expects to serve 100 to 120 children from ages 3-6. During the evenings, it will function as an adult education facility. Additionally, features of the school will include a water well and solar power. The water from the well can also be sold to the community at a low cost. Paxful will cover all costs needed to run the school such as school uniforms, educational resources and salaries.

The upsurge in cryptocurrency transactions has had a profound effect on many Nigerians seeking a way out of poverty. Nigerians are capitalizing on the educational opportunities and supplemental income cryptocurrency brings. The unexpected benefits of cryptocurrency in Nigeria bring hope to citizens living in poverty.

Tiara Tyson
Photo: Flickr

The Impact of Covid-19 on Poverty in NigeriaCOVID-19 has economically impacted countries worldwide, particularly low-to-middle-income nations. One such nation is Nigeria. The impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Nigeria has been especially disastrous. Nigeria is the most populous and has the largest economy in Africa. Because of this, the downturn in Nigeria’s economy, as a result of COVID-19, affected a significant number of people and worsened the poverty level in Nigeria.

Nigeria Before COVID-19

Although its economy was steadily improving before COVID-19, Nigeria already had high levels of poverty and inequality. In 2018, about half the population (87 million people) lived on less than $1.90 a day. Most of the nation’s poor live in rural areas and have markedly less access to clean water than those in urban environments.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nigerian economy showed consistent growth, with the per capita GDP doubling from $1,400 per person to $2,800 per person between 2000 and 2012. However, Nigeria’s high poverty rate did not reflect this economic growth because the growth fell behind population growth.

The status of women in Nigeria was also less than ideal in 2018. Nigeria has an extremely high maternal mortality rate: 512 women per 100,000 die in pregnancy or the year following from causes related to the pregnancy. By comparison, the maternal mortality rate in the United States in 2018 was 17.4 per 100,000.

What Makes Nigeria So Vulnerable?

Oil makes up about 90% of Nigeria’s exports and 50% of its government revenue. This lack of diversity makes Nigeria especially vulnerable. The drop in oil prices during the pandemic damaged Nigeria’s economy and harmed government revenue at a time when it was especially needed to fight COVID-19. The World Bank predicts that this could result in Nigeria’s worst recession in four decades. The Nigerian economy’s dependence on oil exports accounts for much of its loss during COVID-19, as does foreign investors’ aversion to what they perceive as risky investments in the Nigerian economy. Inequality and lack of employment opportunities also made Nigeria vulnerable to COVID-19’s negative influence on its economy. Its already susceptible position aggravated the impact of  COVID-19 on poverty in Nigeria.

As recently as 2016, Nigeria had a recession. After 25 years of growth, Nigeria’s economy contracted due to lower oil prices. Prior to the 2016 recession, Nigeria’s economy was growing very quickly at 6.3%. Since then, it has fallen to around 2.2%. However, until 2020, economic growth remained positive. Nigeria was less prepared for COVID-19 than it was for the 2016 recession; the pre-COVID economy was less healthy than the pre-recession economy. Interest rates and the deficit were higher and the excess crude account was not sufficient to cover the needs of the people or allay the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Nigeria.

How Did Nigeria Respond to COVID-19?

Although Nigeria has a large and growing population, it can only test around 1,500 people a day for COVID-19. The healthcare system cannot meet the needs of the people, with only 20 frontline healthcare workers per 100,000 people. Over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, some still consider Nigeria’s testing capacity “inefficient and insufficient.”

On March 30, 2020, President Mahummadu Buhari declared a lockdown for Lagos and Ogun states. The government eased this lockdown in early May 2020 due to the economic toll it was taking on the country. In an attempt to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Nigeria, Buhari launched several fiscal and stimulus measures. These included money transfers for the poorest and vulnerable, employment programs and a credit facility for healthcare providers and manufacturers.

Money Transfers and Loans

The money transfer program focused primarily on the urban poor, giving 10 billion nairas directly to two billion households as a means to lift them from poverty and improve the local economy. Nigeria’s employment program focuses primarily on unemployment and getting Nigerians into any jobs available. This largely overlooked the underemployment plaguing young, educated Nigerians.

The credit facility extends loans at a limit of 20% of the company’s three-year average turnover with interest rates of 5% to 9% annually, with the intention of stimulating and supporting local production of medical supplies, reducing healthcare tourism by Nigerians and building healthcare infrastructure. The credit covers the production of drugs, medical equipment and technology. The Central Bank of Nigeria determines the expansion and establishment of healthcare service facilities, supplying healthcare services and necessities and other activities.

Unfortunately, Nigeria, like other African nations, went on to face a second wave of COVID-19 and has just introduced more protocols to prevent a third wave. This includes massive travel restrictions, increased testing and quarantine and isolation protocols.

NGOs Working in Nigeria During COVID-19

The Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a global partnership uniting organizations dedicated to researching food insecurity, has been actively involved in aiding Nigeria during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, in cooperation with the Nigerian government, it has begun distributing seeds to farmers across Nigeria. CGIAR conducted surveys to ascertain the effect of COVID-19 on supply chains, compiling the data in an interactive database. CGIAR scientists also created a crowdsourcing tool to collect real-time Nigerian local price data, revealing threats to food security.

The Good News

Nigeria implemented lockdowns relatively early compared to other African nations and targeted its lockdowns, completely exempting some essential services, such as farming, power and water supply systems and manufacturing. This lessened the impact on food systems and may have lessened the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Nigeria.

Post-pandemic, Nigeria may take the opportunity to diversify its economy, discourage inequality and improve its healthcare systems. Having learned from COVID-19 about the vulnerability of oil, costs of inequality and poorly prepared healthcare systems, they may become better and stronger as a country.

Hilary Brown
Photo: Flickr

Separatists in Cameroon
Cameroon is located in Central Africa, bordered by Nigeria. The southwest and northwest regions of Cameroon are Anglophone, while the rest of the country is Francophone. This split in language has been a source of conflict for separatists in Cameroon. Politically, the ruling party within the country is the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement. The party holds 152 of the 180 seats in the National Assembly. In Congress, CPDM rules more than 81% of the Senate. Cameroon’s president, Paul Biya, is serving his seventh term since 1982.

Poverty in Cameroon

The poverty rate in Cameroon increased by 12% between 2007 and 2014. A total of 8.1 million people lived in poverty in 2014, with about 56% residing within the country’s northern regions. The Central African Economic and Monetary Community reports Cameroon as having the largest economy within the area that is experiencing an economic crisis. In April 2017, the World Bank’s Country Economic Memorandum stated that Cameroon would become an “upper-middle-income” country by 2035.

Who Are the Separatists?

Separatists in Cameroon are a group in the north Anglophone regions. They aggressively seek independence against Cameroon’s security forces. Starting in September 2017, this fight has progressively displaced more than 500,000 people and killed nearly 400 civilians and more than 200 military and police officers. In March 2019, the U.N. Refugee Agency claimed that 32,602 Cameroonian refugees reside in Nigeria. Of these refugees, 51% are children and 53% are women.

Separatists in Cameroon have kidnapped and killed children at school. In November 2019, the U.N. Children’s Fund found that 855,000 students were not going to school in English-speaking regions. About 90% of primary schools and 77% of secondary schools run by the state were dysfunctional or shut down.

Open to Communication

Currently, the separatist movement has left about 800,000 people homeless and 3 million lives uprooted. COVID-19 increased those numbers, and separatists in Cameroon have recently been fighting for mutual peace through this pandemic. Even though President Biya disapproves of separatists, as he considers them terrorists, a small pro-talks group led by intelligence chief Maxime Eko Eko and Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute has tried to communicate with separatist leaders.

In April 2020, a man named Sisiku Julius AyukTabe, a separatist who is serving a life sentence for terrorism, agreed to talk with Cameroon’s government to explore ways to end the conflict. The meeting occurred his prison cell and accomplished an agreement of understanding. The terms of the agreement are to keep security forces within separatist barracks, to release all prisoners and to always have a third party mediating future discussions between separatists and the Cameroonian government.

The separatist group in Cameroon formed during World War I and started taking greater action against the Cameroonian government in 2017. With the rate of poverty in Cameroon increasing due to COVID-19, the separatists and the government have tried to find common ground in their conflict. With advocates on both sides coming together to communicate with each other, there is greater hope for a peaceful future for both parties.

Libby Keefe
Photo: Flickr